I was surprised to see that Doom Eternal was in the pipeline following the 2016 release. For starters, it had been years since a proper DOOM installment had been released by id Software. Now, in the short space of three years, we are ready to barge through the gates of hell once again and slay some demons.
During E3 2019, I had the opportunity to attend the Bethesda E3 showcase in person. As the presenters wrapped and the credits rolled, I walked out of the Shrine Theatre here in Los Angeles to be greeted with a play session of the next installment in the Doom pipeline. Here are some of my impressions from the 30-minutes of hands-on time ripping limbs and air-dashing until my heart was content.
Showing me the ropes
I don’t normally play through any tutorial sections simply due to my lack of patience. However, I wanted to make sure I was able to get a crash course in combat before diving in head first.
The tutorial was brief, but it allowed me to take the new mechanics and moves for a spin. As the demo begins, it demonstrates the primary and secondary fire (accessible when gaining mods) of many of the guns at your disposal. Clicking the left mouse button dumps off regular rounds of ammo. But, when clicking in the right mouse, it introduces a secondary fire option. This is important for doing things like detonating rockets while in flight. Nothing like sending off a missile and timing it just right to dismember a charging enemy.
Some of the other secondary fire was done with the more traditional DOOM weapons, like the shotgun and assault rifle. For example, the assault rifle gains a Precision Bolt mod, giving you a powerful sniper shot when aiming down scope.
One of the other newly introduced weapons was the Flame Belch. For the demo, this was mapped to the “R” key. Which was somewhat troublesome as most people would associate this with reloading. However, since this was a demo with a time limit, I couldn’t really sit to tinker with changing the key mappings (I don’t even know if you could, anyway).
The over-the-shoulder lava spew allows you to douse your enemies in a nice flame bath. This isn’t done for style. This move prompts enemies to drop ammo when defeated. The Flame Belch had a cooldown timer so it couldn’t be spammed at every enemy in sight. Gasoline tanks were also scattered throughout the map. I wasn’t quite sure if this was specific to the chainsaw (which was mapped to the “C” key at the time) or shared with your flame abilities.
Dashin’ and slashin’
In Doom Eternal, there’s a lot more in-air mobility. This comes in the form of the mid-air dash, double-dash, monkey bar climbing, and wall climbing. The demo did do a decent job to show how all of these mechanics work together, not only in a controlled tutorial environment but also when I actually got to the playable level.
When things started to get tense in battle, it was almost freeing to be able to traverse the entirety of the map and not just on ground level. Dashing and double-dashing are almost freeing in a sense. This is especially the case when you’ve managed to execute the perfect platforming line and then meat hooking to a demon only to execute them with the Super Shotgun. This was fluid, and most importantly, satisfying as hell.
In Doom (2016) you were mostly confined to areas you could jump to and then pull yourself up. Now, you can climb onto ledges, dig your fists into metal scaffolding, and dash your way out of danger. This isn’t automatic though, prompting you to push the “E” key in order to enact the climbing mechanic and shift for the dash. It also made me wonder if id Software had intended to incorporate the extra mobility before Doom Eternal, they felt very natural.
Precision is key
Enemies this time around aren’t merely bullet sponges until they die. You can still cause enough damage and have enemies start flashing before you execute them. However, you can now fire on specific parts of their bodies to dissect them with the most appropriate tool–bullets.
Firing at the limbs and guns of enemies will slow them down as they are picked apart by your weapons. I’m anxious to see what the rest of the game includes in terms of this precision firing. And I’m almost positive that enemy bosses will somehow incorporate this, especially now that the sticky bomb is amongst the secondary firing options.
My time with Doom Eternal was short yet sweet. The snippet played inserts the Slayer on Phobos en route to Mars. That said, I didn’t necessarily feel DOOM Eternal was a complete overhaul and improvement over Doom (2016). If anything, it’s somewhat of an incremental improvement, almost a half-step. However, this was only a sliver of gameplay, and the team promised new things will be introduced further into the campaign beyond this demo.
Either way, Doom (2016) was one of my favorite games of that year. I’m anticipating how all of these mechanics will shape the hell that awaits when it releases later this year on 22 November.